Xumulus Blog

What is a Progressive Web App

Progressive web apps (PWAs) are web apps that use modern web technologies to deliver an app-like experience that is faster and more reliable than a standard web page. Web developers have been creating Progressive Web Apps for more than two years, and they are supported by browsers such as Chrome and Firefox (with more browsers potentially adding support for them in the future). A web app must have a number of helpful and recognizable traits to be considered progressive.

Progressive Web Apps are made possible using two major components, the Web App Manifest and the Service Worker. The Web App Manifest is a JSON file that contains information on the app’s displayed name, icons it uses, a splash screen, and how it should be launched. Each page that is meant to be rendered in the app needs a reference to this manifest file.

The Service Worker is a series of JavaScript code containing proxies to intercept and respond to network requests. It caches the entire results of the request, including HTTP headers, which allow the app to make requests without any additional handling for cached data. Using this approach requires requests to be made securely using HTTPS to avoid unexpected tampering.

Progressive web app features

A prominent feature of Progressive Web Apps is their responsiveness. Navigating a traditional website when the user has a poor internet connection results in long load times waiting for pages to load and lag occurring when scrolling through content. PWAs can use their cached request results to deliver a smooth experience even when the user’s connection is poor or even when they have no connection at all.

Progressive Web Apps can use many app-like features even though they are different from native apps. Possible features include push notifications, a splash screen, a full-screen experience if the device supports it, and (as mentioned) the ability to work offline. This is not an exhaustive list of possible features, though some features native apps can use are still not accessible to PWAs, such as modifying system settings.

Advantages over native apps

Designing a native app for mobile devices is more costly than developing a website, possibly demanding 10 times the cost. Different platforms also have unique requirements and features, which means tailoring your app to each platform you intend to release it on. Building and maintaining a Progressive Web Apps keeps your costs within reason without the worry of handling specific cases for whichever platform your clients are using.

An end user’s experience with a Progressive Web Apps should be easier and more satisfying than either a native app or standard web page in the same situation. Installing PWAs is easy and instantaneous. The user is still able to install an icon on their device’s home screen but does not need to go through an app store to download theProgressive Web Apps. It is possible to share and distribute theProgressive Web Apps with a simple URL since it is hosted as a website. Users are guaranteed to be running the latest version, which means there is no worry about submitting updates to any app stores for approval or waiting for users to perform an app update on their own.

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